BY BOB LEWIS, AP POLITICAL WRITER
RICHMOND, Va. -- Fifty percent of registered Virginia voters support same-sex marriage compared to 43 percent who don't, with a clear majority of women approving it, a new poll has found.
The same Quinnipiac University poll also found the governor's race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli remains tight, with McAuliffe holding a slight lead, thanks largely to the support of female voters.
The Connecticut-based university interviewed 1,030 registered Virginia voters from July 11-15. The poll's results, released Thursday morning, have a margin of sampling error that is plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points.
The contentious issue of gay marriage becomes more relevant in Virginia after last month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in two cases. The court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied tax, health and pension benefits to single-gender couples. The high court also upheld a lower court decision voiding California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. That puts the determination of whether to allow same-sex couples to marry in 50 state capitals, not Washington.
In the 2006 general election, an amendment to the state Constitution that bans gay marriage in Virginia passed 57 percent to 43 percent. Since the Supreme Court rulings, gay rights organizations such as Equality Virginia have begun preparing long-term efforts aimed at eventually repealing the amendment.
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage.